By Hand From The Heart: One Show, Many Stories!

By Hand From The Heart is a curated makers market event in Chennai, South India. UPCOMING EVENT: 24th – 25th, AUGUST, CROWNE PLAZA, CHENNAI

Meet The Maker: Pankaja Sethi, Textile Designer

unnamedA social entrepreneur, wanderer, researcher in the pursuit of stories and weaves, her passion for travel is where it all began. She started connecting with Adivasi women and weavers to learn about craft and culture, the journey that took her to places such as Jharkhand, Kutch, Odisha, and as far as Indonesia. Drawing inspiration from the raw textures, colours, forms and silhouettes of nature, Pankaja Sethi began working on creating her own range of textiles in collaboration with artisans by empowering several artists, building a dialogue between designer and weaver through ‘Kala aur Katha’ design and research studio. And that is how “Pankaja” was born.

chita - adorned with rice paste

Call it art, call it innovation, each of her pieces have a story to narrate. They are not only beautiful handcrafted indigenous weaves but involve methods of natural dyeing and recycled craft work as well. Based in Bhuvaneshwar, she believes it is her travels that provide the inspiration and ideas for her collections. It was during one such expedition that she held a design workshops with Dongria Kondh Adivasi women in 2006. Even though they spoke different languages, it was the design element that had them working hand in hand.

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Another memorable instance she recalls is from a trip Jarmundi village in Dumka district of Jharkhand back in 2005. It was the first time she was working with Santhal Athivasi women and that was the turning moment in her life. The women shared a legend related to their ancestors who originated from the hills and transformed into birds. Unbelieveable right? This is how Adivasi people relate to nature as their parent and giver. These women spun tales through appliqué pieces and each one was filled with burst of colurs and patterns. With no NIFT education or guidance, they managed to weave pieces that left her speechless, gave her the drive to take it outside to the world beyond.

with artisan

Going beyond the joy of being an artist, it gave her wings to fly and the freedom to experiment and break barriers. At the upcoming By Hand From The Heart event, you can witness one of a kind-cotton and silk organic-natural- hand woven sarees, tunics and shrugs made with care and love , recycled- up cycled unconventional and quirky shrugs inspired from the Korean Pojagi and hand painted bird- tote bags made by birdie–artist.

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Pankaja Sethi will showcase her collection of clothing and accessories at the By Hand, From The Heart Artisan & Farmers Market | 7- 8 August 2015 | 10 a.m – 8 p.m | Hanu Reddy Residences, 41/19, Poes Garden, Teynampet, Chennai.

Event Page:

Pankaja Sethi in conversation with Aarti Krishnakumar – a By Hand From The Heart exclusive.


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